Reflection. Processing. Leaning in. These are three phrases you’ll hear thrown around a lot if you sit in on a Raleigh Fellows class or Roundtable on any given week. It’s beautiful the opportunities we are given in this program to not back away from topics or ideas, but instead we are constantly invited into space to challenge, dive in and dig deeper. This past month especially, we’ve been given a lot of practical means for reflection. A little gem of the fellows is that once a month we get to go to Mary Young’s house for our Spiritual Formation class. Although we may call it a class, it really is a retreat, as Mary often refers to it. We are given guidance and time to press into scripture, thoughts of our peers, and thoughts of our own. This has become one of my favorite parts of the fellows as I crave the alone time we have during the class and the practices Mary gives us to guide our spiritual walks. This month, we were given the practice of Examen prayer. Examen prayer is when we set ourselves before God and literally examine how we have felt and experienced life in the past day, week or month. You pick a time frame and look back at it. There are steps of gratitude, petition, review, forgiveness, and renewal during the practice. You thank God for His many blessings, ask Him for help, become aware of the ways you moved with God during the day and the ways you moved with insecurity and fear. You then recognize that you are forgiven and then invite God to show up. During the review section of the practice, Mary gave us an idea to write down adjectives that we remembered feeling during the week, day or month that we were examining. Then, we were to recognize if these feelings were a consolation or a desolation. It is extremely helpful to go through the days, weeks and months of your life doing a practice such as this. It helps us to remember the places that are bringing us life, showing us God and renewing our spirits. It also reminds us that God wants to be with us in the desolating parts of our lives—where we feel alone or let down. He wants to fill those voids. He wants us to consciously recognize when we feel those ways instead of passively forgetting about them.
It is so easy to go through life passively. Sometimes ignoring things that are difficult and breezing by them is more comfortable. I think I am learning a lot this year that God doesn’t want us to be passive in our walk with Him. He is a God who isn’t afraid to walk through the deserts and the valleys of life. He is not a passive God, but an active one. I am thankful that the Raleigh Fellows has given me space to lean more into this life He invites me to live—here’s to 2.5 more months! Time, slow down.
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, understanding, and my entire will. All I have and call me own. Whatever I have or hold, you have given me. I return it all to you and surrender it wholly to be governed by your will. Give my only your love and you grave and I am rich enough and ask for nothing else.” - St. Ignatius of Loyola